Depressed at the commercialism he sees around him, Charlie Brown tries to find a deeper meaning to Christmas.Depressed at the commercialism he sees around him, Charlie Brown tries to find a deeper meaning to Christmas.Depressed at the commercialism he sees around him, Charlie Brown tries to find a deeper meaning to Christmas.
The most inappropriate programme on wasn't the infomercial for the miracle juicer, no, it was the annual Parade of Expensive Children's Merchandise direct from Disneyland, in case there were some kids left who hadn't coerced a Mickey, or Terk, or Pumbaa from their beleaguered parents. One of the French channels did have a service from Notre Dame in Paris which was the right sort of thing, with an actual church and choir, but it was entirely in French. But then I found "A Charlie Brown Christmas" on one of the stations.
Once upon a time, "Charlie Brown" was just a prelude for its television viewers, most of whom would be attending church closer to Christmas Day. Nowadays, it's probably more than just the prelude; it's likely to be the whole concert.
Thank goodness Charles Schulz and company did such a fine job of crafting this programme back in 1965. Thirty-five years later, Charlie Brown is still as earnest and sympathetic as ever. He was even decrying the commercialization of Christmas back then, decrying in the wilderness, it seems.
Vince Guaraldi normally gets a lot of credit for his music, but there is far more to the show than just that. It is extremely well-written with a lot of charming and funny lines. I particularly like Linus as "an innocent shepherd", but even Snoopy as a penguin is sure to get a big laugh.
But at the midway point in the programme, the tone changes from quality seasonal fun to something very sincere and deeply held. Linus delivers his heartfelt sermon from the pulpit (the school stage). The Peanuts gang renews its faith (in Charlie Brown, at the very least). The congregation assembled there together raises its collective voice in the recessional hymn "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" as we bid them farewell and take our leave. It is these parallels from the church service, I feel, that contribute to the strong emotion many of us experience whenever we view this small triumph of television programming.
Would I say that everything in the story conforms to a higher design conceived by Charles Schulz? I won't hazard a guess, but I do like to feel that he felt a little touch of divine inspiration with this one.
- Dec 25, 1999